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Digital local transport: Making mobility fit for the future

From mobile services and multimodal transport concepts to shared mobility: Digitalization in mobility is changing the way we get around. Particularly in local public transport networks, digital solutions can simplify everyday life for many people. Low-traffic periods, such as during the coronavirus pandemic most recently, provide a good opportunity for transport associations to reposition themselves technologically. Besides cashless and paperless ticketing, I see great potential in ticket checks. Automated processes and digital services lead to greater customer focus here – and turn late payers into loyal customers.

Has the world come to a standstill in the coronavirus pandemic? Not quite. Bus and rail transport are of systematic importance and are continuing to operate, albeit with reduced passenger numbers. As a result of service restrictions and special timetables, digital services such as real-time timetable information and online ticketing have become highly relevant. Digitalization plans were already gathering pace in normal times and have now gained extra momentum. And ticket sales via app is only the beginning.


Much progress is still to be made. Nowhere near all touchpoints in the literal customer journey have yet been seamlessly digitized in local public transport networks. This includes checking tickets, for example. Streamlining approaches like digital self-check-in, as has already been established with long-distance trains, have not yet arrived in local public transport. The process chains in the event of ticket violations are often long and costly, while the payment of the increased carriage fee is complicated. I am convinced that there is significant potential for digitalization in ticket control, which transport associations should exploit. The goal must always be to adjust all communication and work processes individually to end customers – during the journey and beyond.


Processing ticket checks digitally with a platform solution

Checking passengers who are unable to present a ticket is an unpleasant task in the daily work of public transport staff and commissioned service providers. These incidents can be handled with a modular end-to-end mobility solution – for all steps from address verification through to subsequent payment of the increased carriage fee. Where the passenger is unable to provide identification, the system reconciles their name and address already during control, using extensive databases in compliance with data protection. For instance, if the passenger gives a fake name, the ticket inspector will receive a corresponding notification in a matter of seconds. This prevents cases of fraud and avoids subsequent costs.

Thanks to the digital checking system, ticket control becomes quicker overall, freeing up the time of transport staff. What’s more, the process for retroactively providing evidence of a ticket or submitting payment is made as comfortable as possible for the customer. The increased carriage fee receipt is issued in no time and the customer can access a self-service portal with just a click. There, they can upload their valid ticket retroactively or pay the increased carriage fee quickly and conveniently. If the payment website is also designed in the look of the transport association and the customer is greeted with friendly communication, the entire process will also make a positive impression. After all, it is important to retain the end customer despite the unpleasant situation. My clear recommendation is therefore to use a customer-centric online solution that simplifies ticket control for staff and provides a point of contact for end customers, allowing them to access it when and where they wish and settle the increased carriage fee. Digital and flexible in terms of timing.


Success figures from practice

Our success figures also show that the digital path is the right one. More than 80 percent of local public transport operators in Germany already use the modular mobility platform by Arvato Financial Solutions. In 2019, we were able to process over 1.9 million increased carriage fees and ticket claims via the platform and achieve success rates of up to 70 percent. In other words, the vast majority of cases were successfully concluded – and in record time thanks to the digital processes. A case can be closed in just a few minutes in theory, and in some instances even immediately. Arvato was thus able to recover around 59 million euros of liquidity for local public transport operators last year!

These figures confirm how important digitized processes on an end-to-end platform are for success. After all, handling all processes on a platform enables the easy integration of additional digital solutions, such as self-service portals.

Our self-service portal is a key component for streamlined, customer-centric processes.  It can be used on the go and helps to resolve cases quickly and without complications. And it does so around the clock, of course. As a result, processes can be accelerated and the customer center relieved.

Analysis shows that the majority of passengers (56 percent ) use the self-service portal with their smartphone, which they can quickly and easily access via a QR code on the increased carriage fee ticket.

At present, we are continuously expanding the mix of payment methods available, in order to offer even more flexibility for cashless payments. This also makes the payment portal suitable for international travelers. Indeed, as a customer segment they are not to be underestimated  and account for more than 10 percent of increased carriage fees issued. For many cross-border commuters or foreign tourists, familiar payment methods represent an important service factor. Therefore, the range of payment methods available should always be considered for fast return cash flows and increased customer satisfaction.


During the corona crisis, passenger numbers in local public transport were limited. But this does not mean that rush hours with overcrowded trains and buses are a thing of the past. In the contrary, passenger numbers in local public transport will rise again in the future, not least in part due to environmental protection concerns. In that case, twice as many passengers will need to be quickly checked than in normal peak times. So it is now all the more important to digitize the processes required.


Find out more about the advantages of our end-to-end mobility solution and how you can prepare for the digital future of mobility in our Mobility Insight (German language).

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